Several members of the US Senate and House visited Taiwan aboard a military plane Tuesday, inflaming tensions with Beijing. It’s not clear at this time who was on the aircraft, but the trip was confirmed by the Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
Kirby said the congressional delegation to Taiwan was the second of the year and claimed it is “not uncommon” for members of Congress to travel to the island aboard a military aircraft. But in June, when three Democratic Senators visited Taiwan aboard a military plane, it was reported that such delegations usually traveled on unmarked private jets.
According to the South China Sea Probing Initiative, the US lawmakers arrived on Taiwan Tuesday aboard a US Navy C-40A transport plane and were only on the island for less than an hour.
China’s Defense Ministry released a statement condemning the visit. “On November 9, the US congressmen flew to Taiwan on military aircraft to pay visit, China firmly opposes and strongly condemns it,” the statement said. “We hereby warn the US side to immediately stop its provocative actions, immediately cease all destructive actions that lead to the escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Strait.”
Also on Tuesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army said it conducted a combat readiness patrol in the Taiwan Strait to “test and improve the combat effectiveness of the troops of multiple services and arms in joint operations.”